Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Student Led Conferences 2012

Another year of student led conferences have come and gone.  I met with 22 of my 26 students/families.  I think this is a great ratio.

I walked away loving this model of conferences more than I ever have before.   I thought I had written here about this before, but as I looked through the archives, I couldn't find it.

So here is how is basically works:

1.  Have families sign up for a conference time.
2.  Students then make an invitation to remind parents of time. (I didn't do this step this year, but I always have before.)

3.  Create a simple plan form of those things you want students to show.  Usually I just make a checklist with things like:  Share your independent reading book, share the best journal writing you did last week, play a math game, show your science notebook, show the super improvers wall, etc.  Basically anything you want parents to see can go here.  Students make a folder to contain their conference paperwork, too.  Students write a letter to their family, too.

4.  Have students write down goals.  This can be on a piece of notebook paper or on a form you create. This year I had students write down one thing they enjoyed or did well, one goal, and what they need to do to reach their goal.

5.  I have up to 4 conferences going on at the same time.  Most kids are showing the stuff on their plan form.  I also set up a little snack table.

6.  I have one designated area for the goal discussion with parents/caregivers, students, teachers.  Some years I have the students sit in my chair at my desk, with chairs around for the adults.  This year we set up a couple chairs by the couch.  This is the area where I spend most of my time.  I have students share their goals, invite parent input, and after addressing those I just say good stuff.

Thursday is the super busy time for me.  I did not leave the couch area from 3:45 - 7:00, except to clarify or support students.  I write down notes about what students say.

People always worry that there might be something private that won't get said, but the truth is I've usually had correspondence on really tough stuff prior to this.  Usually adults or kids say the stuff I feel like I need to.  {That probably happens 90% of the time, and the other 10% people are usually not ready to address anyway.}  This takes the pressure off the teacher.  I feel like my students were honest and accurate.  It's rare to shock a parent in 4th grade with something they have honestly never heard before!

I've used this model successfully with grades 1 - 4.  I do have a conference night earlier in the year when I try to address the needs of new students or parents with specific concerns.  Kids usually ask when we are going to have conferences again because it is so positive!  Sometimes we do conferences again in February.


  1. Thank you what a brilliant idea! I would love to try it out. Very differnt from the super-short conferences typical at my school - and an improvement, I'd say.

  2. Elizabeth,

    I've always been pleased with the results. Sometimes I'm surprised by the honesty and self awareness of my students! I'd be so happy to answer any questions that might help you succeed!